2:00PM Water Cooler 11/30/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Xi and Trump Should Swallow Their Pride and Join the TPP” [Foreign Policy]. ‘The only way forward is to seek peaceful coexistence through piecemeal compromise. The perfect vehicle for such talks is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the multilateral free trade deal negotiated under former U.S. President Barack Obama, abandoned by Trump, and resurrected by other Asian-Pacific trade partners such as Japan. The G-20 meeting between Trump and Xi should produce an announcement that the United States and China will be launching bilateral negotiations to join the TPP together.”

“Trump signs NAFTA replacement deal ahead of the G20 summit” [CNN]. “The ceremonial signing does not mean the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the USMCA, as it has been rebranded — will now go into effect. The deal still needs to win congressional approval in Washington, where key members of both political parties have already expressed significant concerns. ‘I don’t expect to have much of a problem,’Trump said during the ceremony.”

“Schumer calls for improvements to new NAFTA deal” [The Hill]. Schumer: “I am most interested in ensuring that any final agreement protects our dairy farmers and that there is real enforcement of new and tough labor provisions. The deal must also raise wages and should recognize that climate change is a grave threat to our countries’ economies and the health and safety of our citizens.” And–


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


“Bernie Sanders Puts Forward a Program That Could Split the Democratic Party” [Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report]. “[T]he immediate obstacle to Sanders’ proposals for Medicare-For-All, tuition-free public higher education, expanded Social Security, a $15 an hour minimum wage, “bold action” on climate change, fixing the criminal justice system, comprehensive immigration reform, progressive tax reform, a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul and cheaper prescription drugs, is not Donald Trump’s GOP troglodytes — it’s Nancy Pelosi and her corporate Democrats, who answer to a much higher power: big capital…. Sanders doesn’t have to win the White House to bring about this historic “creative destruction.” He just has to wreck the Party. If the Party sabotages him in the primaries, as in 2016, then progressives will get another chance to do the right thing, and say goodbye to the Democrats. Or, if Sanders wins, hopefully the corporatists will follow the money and run away to the GOP, or form their own Third Way party, and leave the Democratic carcass to the poor folks. Any split will do the trick, as long as the result is a non-corporate mass party.”

“Sanders Institute Brings Star Power to Burlington” [Seven Days]. “A star-studded crowd joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the Burlington waterfront Thursday night to kick off a three-day conference hosted by the nonprofit Sanders Institute…. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, actress Susan Sarandon, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis were among those scheduled to address such topics as climate change, housing and criminal justice reform.” Sanders (video): “We have got to make sure that the Democratic party is not just the party of the east coast and the west coast. It is a party of every state in this country. Our job is to make sure that the issues that we deal with, that people understand they impact black families in New York City, they impact white families in Kansas and Latino families in Los Angeles.” • Heads explode at the mention of Susan Sarondon….

“The Making of Elizabeth Warren” [Politico]. “For Warren, that first go-around with Dr. Phil was an epiphany. She was not being asked to talk to a reader on the other side of a printed page but to counsel actual people sitting right there in the same studio. ‘I had done interviews about [The Two-Income Trap]’ she told me, ‘but never had someone turn directly to me and say, ‘Here’s a family, here’s their problem. Give them some advice, Elizabeth.’ And that’s what I did.’ Perhaps more important, she realized viscerally the disproportionate but equally undeniable reach of TV—that ‘by spending a few minutes talking to the family on Dr. Phil’s show,’ she would write in her 2014 memoir, she ‘might have done more good than in an entire year’ on campus.” • It is true that Warren is a good explainer.

“Clinton does little to dampen 2020 speculation” [The Hill]. “‘I don’t understand the wisdom of telling a woman who has made history in our party and in the country to get off the stage,’ said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Clinton. ‘Assuming the campaign learns from its missteps, she’d be fine.'” • Oh my.

“Goodbye Midterm Dynamic, Hello Presidential Politics” [Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections]. “In presidential years, voters cast separate ballots for president and for Congress. During midterms, those same voters don’t have a presidential ballot, so they don’t have a direct way to express their dissatisfaction with the person in the Oval Office apart from voting against the nominees of the president’s party… With Trump not on the ballot — but traveling around the country saying that he was in fact on the ballot — the only way to send a signal of dissatisfaction to the White House and to make a statement about changing the direction of the country was to vote against Republicans for federal office. That is exactly what swing voters (including independents and college-educated whites) and core Democratic demographic groups did.”


“The thrills and chills of a Democratic supermajority” [Los Angeles Daily News]. “With many ballots yet to be counted, it appears Democrats will have 60 votes in the 80-member Assembly and 29 votes in the 40-member Senate. There hasn’t been a Democratic supermajority of this size in California since 1883. The new supermajorities of roughly three-quarters in each house represent an unprecedented level of power, particularly when added to Democratic control of every statewide office. The future of California could be reshaped by it. Stakeholders are lined up to demand more money for affordable housing, infrastructure and expanded public assistance. Yet the state faces an enormous unfunded liability for public worker pensions and benefits. Combined with increased spending, it could plunge the state into disaster in an economic downturn.” • You’d think CalPERS would be mentioned by name….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The new wave of Democrats owes a huge debt to people power” [Gary Younge, Guardian]. “There has been a gale afoot for some time now. The election of the most racially diverse and most female Congress ever is clearly a product of a moment in which #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, Women’s Marches, Fight for 15, immigrant rights, gun control and climate change have emerged or continued to surge. The election of a misogynist bigot to the White House has doubtless been a catalyst for women and minorities to stand for election too.” • Partly a product. I don’t see how you put the election of former CIA operatives, even in female, into this frame at all. “Not enough,” as Sander would say, that they’re women!

Stats Watch

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, November 2018: “a very good month for Chicago’s PMI sample” [Econoday]. “New orders surged…. Hiring picked up…. This report can be volatile as demonstrated with today’s results which contrast with other business surveys that indicate November’s pace either held steady or slowed.” And: “The Fed manufacturing surveys have been trending down – and the Chicago ISM strongly expanded” [Econintersect]. And: “well above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

Commodities: “Commodities Drop Looks Secular, Not Cyclical” [MarketWatch]. “Any way you measure it, the market for commodities is suffering. The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 key raw materials ranging from oil to copper to soybeans has dropped about 10 percent since reaching an almost three-year high in May. I’ve identified 10 forces that explain the weakness and why it will persist.”

Retail: “Payless sold its discount shoes for $600 a pair at mock luxury influencer event” [USA Today]. “Payless took over a former Armani store, renamed the retail location as “Palessi” and stocked the outlet with its discount-priced boots, heels, tennis and leisure shoes. Then, it invited a flock of partygoers and sold them the shoes, typically priced at $20 to $40 in Payless stores, at inflated designer price tags of $200 to $600. “Palessi” sold about $3,000 worth of shoes within a few hours…”

Tech: “Company Tried to Patent My Work After a Job Interview” [Patent Panda]. “[D]uring the second year of my PhD at the [MIT] Media Lab. I was invited to visit Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) to learn about some of their new projects in storytelling. I got to visit their space, meet some of my creative heroes and I shared with them all of my work in interactive books and storytelling…. What started as just a visit quickly turned into a job interview. I was even invited to share my work directly with Regina Dugan, the director of ATAP at that time! I was excited, thinking perhaps I would be invited for a summer internship. It turned out they found my work so relevant that they offered me a job on the spot.” The writer turned down the job to stay in school. Time passes… “Two years later, in March 2016 I find out from some paper engineering friends that some of the same people who had interviewed me had also applied for patents on interactive pop-up books with electronics. These patents covered many of the same things that had discussed, that I’d showed them, with no mention of my or others’ work in the field.” • Wowsers.

The Bezzle: “Blockchain study finds 0.00% success rate and vendors don’t call back when asked for evidence” [The Register]. “Though Blockchain has been touted as the answer to everything, a study of 43 solutions advanced in the international development sector has found exactly no evidence of success. Three practitioners including erstwhile blockchain enthusiast John Burg, a Fellow at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), looked at instances of the distributed crypto ledger being used in a wide range of situations by NGOs, contractors and agencies. But they drew a complete blank. ‘We found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles,’ Burg et al wrote. ‘However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development.'” • Hilarity ensues.

The Bezzle: “British tech billionaire Mike Lynch charged with fraud in the US over $11 billion Autonomy sale” [Business Insider]. “Lynch sold Autonomy to HP for $11.7 billion (£9.2 billion) in 2011. A year later, HP’s CEO claimed the company had wildly inflated its earnings, and subsequently wrote it down by $8.8 billion. In response Lynch launched a countersuit, claiming HP was scapegoating him for its own incompetence. On Thursday, the US Department of Justice filed 14 charges of fraud against Lynch in a San Francisco court, along with Autonomy’s former vice president for finance Stephen Chamberlain. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla has reached production milestone of 1,000 Model 3s a day: report” [MarketWatch]. “According to an internal email from Chief Executive Elon Musk to employees, which Electrek said it obtained, Musk told employees to focus on keeping that 1,000-a-day production level steady and to look for ways to reduce costs and find efficiencies. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the report.” • Dubious provenance….


“We Can Pay For A Green New Deal” [Stephanie Kelton, et al., HuffPo]. “We need a mass mobilization of people and resources, something not unlike the U.S. involvement in World War II or the Apollo moon missions ― but even bigger. We must transform our energy system, transportation, housing, agriculture and more…. Here’s the good news: Anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable. And it won’t be a drag on the economy ― unlike the climate crisis itself, which will cause tens of billions of dollars worth of damage to American homes, communities and infrastructure each year. A Green New Deal will actually help the economy by stimulating productivity, job growth and consumer spending, as government spending has often done. (You don’t have to go back to the original New Deal for evidence of that.) In fact, a Green New Deal can create good-paying jobs while redressing economic and environmental inequities.” • Well worth a read.

“Climate change: Australian students skip school for mass protest” [BBC]. “School Strike 4 Climate Action protests have been held in every state capital and 20 regional towns.”

“How Wildfires Are Making Some California Homes Uninsurable” [New York Times]. “California’s wildfires keep growing bigger, more frequent and more destructive. Of the 20 worst wildfires in state history, four were just last year, giving rise to a record $12.6 billion of insurance claims. It hasn’t gotten any better this year…. ‘We’re not in a crisis yet, but all of the trends are in a bad direction,’ said Dave Jones, who is completing his eighth and final year as California’s insurance commissioner. ‘We’re slowly marching toward a world that’s uninsurable.’” • Ulp.

“Coal is still king in global power production” [Phys.org]. “Coal remains the most widely used means of electricity production in the world. It also happens to be the biggest emitter of climate-changing carbon dioxide of any fuel. Despite efforts to tackle global warming, worldwide demand for coal was up one percent last year, mainly due to demand in Asia…. India seems set to replace China as the world’s biggest coal consumer while Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam have also registered big increases.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have been exposed to dangerous PFAS chemicals, including around Pittsburgh’s airport” [Public Source]. “The contamination is from a class of chemicals referred to as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The chemicals have gotten into water supplies in hundreds of locations across the country and are associated with a range of cancers and serious illnesses in humans, even if they’ve been exposed to very small amounts…. In 2016, at least six million Americans were thought to have been exposed to PFAS through their drinking water. The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group that studies the chemicals, concluded that more than 220,000 Pennsylvanians were likely exposed to PFAS. But in May the group estimated the number of people exposed nationally is about seven times higher than they originally thought. Its latest analysis suggests more than 110 million people in the nation may have been exposed through their drinking water.”

“Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed” [Quanta]. “Creationists love to insist that evolution had to assemble upward of 300 amino acids in the right order to create just one medium-size human protein. With 20 possible amino acids to occupy each of those positions, there would seemingly have been more than 20300 possibilities to sift through, a quantity that renders the number of atoms in the observable universe inconsequential. Even if we discount redundancies that would make some of those sequences effectively equivalent, it would have been wildly improbable for evolution to have stumbled onto the correct combination through random mutations within even billions of years…. ” • But they don’t take Kolmogorov complexity into account! (Sorry, I couldn’t find a quotable nugget after the lead! But the article is interesting….)

“Study Finds Rising Sea Levels Result Of Expansive Colonization Effort By Dolphins” [The Onion].

Class Warfare

“Grinnell student workers approve campuswide union; school’s move to quash has national implications” [Des Moines Register]. “Grinnell College students voted to expand unionization of student workers, but the move could be short-lived as the school tries to quash the unionization by appealing to a Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board.” • That’s shocking. The Grinnell motto: “Truth and Humanity.”

“Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.” [New York Times]. “T.M. Landry has become a viral Cinderella story, a small school run by Michael Landry, a teacher and former salesman, and his wife, Ms. Landry, a nurse, whose predominantly black, working-class students have escaped the rural South for the nation’s most elite colleges…. In reality, the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity….” Interestingly: “Some alumni, especially those who spent only a short time at T.M. Landry, have been successful.” • Brings up the idea that the Ivies are meant to filter out talent, rather than encourage it…

“Suicide and the chimera of American prosperity” [The Week]. “It will be tempting for some liberals to argue that the drug and suicide epidemic, which is most pronounced in states like West Virginia and in the post-industrial Midwest, is the muted response of white Americans to the prospect of their irrelevance in a rapidly diversifying country. But that’s not what I think is happening — and not just because David Duke probably says the same thing. For one thing, the despair that is the underlying cause of these phenomena is universal. The difference is that black and Hispanic communities have more hard-won resilience than whites who have led increasingly atomized, if comparatively more prosperous, existences for half a century now. They live in self-segregated communities in which the only meaningful bonds with their neighbors and even their extended families are those to which they have consented. Their experience has not prepared them for financial uncertainty, violence, atrophying attention spans, and drug taking. For them there really is no such thing as society.?

“In 1970s, workers at this GM plant tried to reinvent the American Dream. Instead, they watched it fade away” [Will Bunch, The Inquirer]. “The young lords of Lordstown found the assembly line — 35 second bursts of a dull, repetitive task, and a 5-second break before the next Impala or Vega rolled up — to be soul-crushing work. Botched cars — some of them slashed, deliberately sabotaged by angry workers — piled up in the giant lot outside the factory. A good chunk of the labor force had little fear of conflict with their bosses because they’d recently returned from the front lines in Vietnam.”

News of the Wired

“There Is Gas Under the Tundra” (photographs) [Lens Culture]. “[W]hile Xelot’s images of the peculiar fire-ice balance are arresting enough as still visuals, there are also features of the setting that cannot be captured with a camera’s lens. ‘These huge [LNG] flames in the tundra make a lot of noise, and they are incredibly hot. While I was photographing I almost burned my finger off. The atmosphere’s temperature is -30°C, but the closer you get, the more it burns, which is an impressive sensation. The tundra is historically a very silent place, but inside the yards it is noisy and crowded, and I try to make this contrast come through in the photographs.'”

Vaccination and public health. Thread:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant(KH):

KH: “The recent rains, on Hawaii Island’s west side, have caused an explosion of fountain grass and the pure white Hawaiian poppy, along the ocean.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. freedomny

      Yeah – I’ve been following. They also had the Mayor of Barcelona on – ironically her story sounded very similar to Alexandria O-C – very cool! And Jeffery Sachs also spoke a bunch of times and he’s always wonderfully candid. Of course everyone wants Bernie to run again. And then they announced that they were starting an International Progressive movement – Yanis Varoufakis – from Greece – did the honors. He also is a part of a group/founded called Diem25 – which is essentially like Justice Democrats – but for Europe.

      The climate stuff has really put a fire under everyone’s butts. FINALLY!

      Anyway – take a look-see-hear. There’s something for everyone and they recorded the event; The Gathering at The Sanders Institute.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Liked the messaging of the article. But it didn’t mention conservation. The fact that every BTU we conserve is dollars taken away from our Great Leader Corporations is one of the stumbling blocks we need to start examining. Thus, my first wince while reading the article was fearing the moral equivalent of Ethanol Gasoline. But then getting by with less is not considered virtuous in this country, and you have to pull people in first.

      Trust me to be a party pooper at the rally :)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

        Every dollar withheld from Big Koch and Coal causes BK&C a little bit of pain. If the amount of pain inflicted on the enemy by conservation lifestyling is greater than the pain endured by the conservation lifestyler him or herself, is it worth it? And how do we know if we can inflict greater pain on the enemy unless we try to do so?

  1. Seth Miller

    A supermajority in California, and still no ability to enact or strengthen rent control at the local level. The sooner that split that Glen Ford writes about happens, the better. In a high-tax, high-income state, there’s no reason why there can’t be single payer, rent control, public banking, public pensions, state-owned cheap power, free higher education, free long term care, labor representation on corporate boards, and tons of other things. Except that the democrats don’t really stand with the people who want these things.

    1. Lee

      And we have one of the highest average per capita incomes, high state taxes, and at the same time, the highest poverty rate of all U.S. states. Democrats are keeping California at the future’s bleeding edge.

      1. JBird4049

        My home state of California has one hell of a Gini coefficient(a measure of inequality with 0 being completely equal and 1 being one person has it all) at 0.4899 and New York is at 0.5224. Both of these “wealthy” Blue States have greater income inequality then any Southern State or in the Appalachians besides Louisiana. Besides Alabama or Mississippi it is the most messed up and Vaccination and public health. State in the Union. For comparison the United States is 0.47 so we’re doing better than Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil still. Barely but still. So there’s that.

    2. jrs

      well why do you think the real reason is, because just blaming the lameness of Dems is too easy even if they are lacking, I think we need to dig a bit deeper as I don’t think the money is all wasted, some of it is *arguably* wasted: high speed rail maybe depending on one’s views. There is no doubt corporate lobbying pushing legislative favors (but that’s universally true in the U.S.). But none of this really seems to get down to it.

      So why is it so costly for seemingly so little in return? There are lots of state and local pension obligations (I almost suspect why I had to vote myself a local tax increase) maybe draining money. Lots of poverty. Lots of immigration. Insufficient housing. No way to get single payer on the state level actually without raising taxes further.

    3. How is it legal

      yep. Not expecting anything to change for the better.

      Well past retirement aged, Feinstein and Pelosi, still there, while many far younger California citizens are proclaimed to be too old to be hired (especially the females, despite #Me Too!™). And sht Newsom and his mentors are now at the reigns, Brown was traitorous enough, so ashamed I once voted for him, Feinstein, Boxer, Pelosi, Eshoo, etcetera.

      Told someone, the other day, of my right around the corner rent increase of near 60%, and they said that sounds illegal, it should be. Renter’s are caused no end of constant fear, despair, and homelessness in this Blue State[!]™ Republic of California™, while Democratic Governor Elect, Gavin Newsom (who was utterly against Proposition Ten Rent Control) lies through his teeth:

      Gavin Newsom @GavinNewsom
      At the border today, I met a 3-year-old girl. She was innocent and kind, and was being housed in this shelter. She came here because someone sought a better life for her. CA is a state of refuge. A place of new beginnings. Of compassion and inclusion. We can’t forget that. pic.twitter.com/MC6hFPCoWu [ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DtM_QcPUcAATzOR.jpg:small ]
      2:15 PM – 29 Nov 2018

      Excuse Me?????

      I can’t imagine how many of those Camp Fire victims, are going to end up homeless due to California’s raging age discrimination and utterly unaffordable housing, with years long waiting lists for what – more times than not, in the US – is criminally managed Public Housing.

      Regarding Newsom’s photo op [1] with an empty room of cots – devoid of the humans he claims to care about – on that above linked twit, I’ve, also, yet to see Newsom in a photo op with either the sheltered, or the car and tent dwelling Camp Fire Evacuees. Can’t imagine why, guess he’s allergic to taking photos in refugee/evacuee shelters, car and tent camps with actual humans in them.

      If I had a dart board, I’d print out pages of his twitter feed to cover it, that way, I’d rarely miss a bull’s eye. But only after I sharpened those darts down to a fine, fine point.

      [1] Gavin to photographer: Make sure you just ever so subtly pick up on my hand over my face as if I’m weeping (or, you are fired!), instead of playing – sanitized of any human presence – Identity Politics™ at the expense of immigrants who would have possibly fared even worse on the California side of the border, especially as concerns housing, affordable basic necessities, and losing the increasingly rare and priceless non tangible benefit of living in a neighborhood one is familiar with, among one’s family and other loved ones, and support networks.

        1. How is it legal

          Telling, that Gini Mexico comparison – and California still holds the number one State spot for poverty, as measured by the US Census Bureau (its Supplemental Poverty Measure), Accounting for housing costs, California has nation’s highest poverty rate -A new report suggests 19 percent of Californians are impoverished.

          California has held that number one State spot since the Census Bureau instituted that much needed measurement (which, I believe, was in 2011); see here and here. Seven solid years, of those California Poverty Reports and Gavin Newsom and his Millionaire[ess] Political ilk still act like they’re still blissfully unaware of that fact. Worse, they appear to want to spread that Inequality premised in Meritocracy™ all over the US, in the form of Tech Campuses™ Company Towns.

          So sickening, given the amount of wealth in California. It’s horrifying that the country has become inured to staggering amounts of unsheltered homeless people, if California were considered a Red State, which frankly it may as well be considered – given the ever increasing impoverishment of it’s own citizens – there would be a far greater outcry.

      1. JBird4049

        I can’t imagine how many of those Camp Fire victims, are going to end up homeless due to California’s raging age discrimination and utterly unaffordable housing, with years long waiting lists for what – more times than not, in the US – is criminally managed Public Housing.

        If anyone doubts the extreme length of the waiting list for housing assistance, I can personally assure you that one county’s section 8 waitlist has been closed since 2008. That is to get on the waiting list, not the list itself. The elderly, the disabled, and families with children are the only ones being generally accepted for the other remaining kinds of pathetic housing assistance. It is not that the housing assistance agencies don’t want to help anyone, that they do, but there is so much need and not much help to give.

        Bleep Gavin “Good Hair” Newsom. I have heard more about the gunz and refugees than about homeless Californians from him. All hat and no cattle is he.

        1. How is it legal

          Yep, regarding those voucher waitlists. Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County Housing Authority Section 8 voucher wait list hasn’t opened since 2006, and many would not income qualify even if it did open up. The Federal Poverty limit ceilings are an evil ‘joke.’

          Insanely, the Santa Clara Housing Authority doesn’t inform those who age qualify, that Senior persons don’t need vouchers to get into Family, or Senior, Housing (and one person said they couldn’t send me a list of Senior and Family Housing for the county because: I didn’t have a voucher; and that they only assist people with Section 8 vouchers).

          But even if they offered assistance, not needing a voucher doesn’t resolve ‘Seniors’ problems, because much of the housing takes a minimum five years between the waiting list opening, plus the wait after one is on the list. And then there are the predators who own and run the housing one might get stuck in after the utterly traumatizing move. I’ll bet the waiting list situation is far worse for the Disabled who need housing.

          As regards those Housing Assistance Agencies wanting to assist, I’ve come across more than one person who was extremely ‘unpleasant’ in my process of desperately attempting to prevent ultimate homelessness – persons likely punching down due to Toxic Workplace Syndrome.

          From what I’ve noticed, for quite a few years now, a frightening amount of California Government Agencies [1], Legislator’s Offices, and Non Profit Agencie$ have stunningly TOXIC workplaces. Workplaces which end up with a predominance of employees willing to punch down on those they are paid to assist; particularly when you ask them a reasonable question, or gently inform them that’s not your understanding of the law, qualifications, or facts you just did the due diligence of reading up on before calling, etcetera.

          [1] Governor Jerry Brown’s office aide, and an Insurance Commissioner’s Office creep, sounded like over testosteroned LAW™ ENFORCEMENT! wannabees, for just one of way too many examples.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why should power be cheap? Cheap power encourages power wastage. Expensive power encourages power conservation.

      1. Procopius

        Errr… I would have said cheap power makes it possible to reduce human suffering through electrification. Wastage? I think you’re too young to remember what life is like when you don’t have affordable electric power. Also, cheap power is an indication that electric power really doesn’t use up many resources. Granted, the cost of suffering/dealing with pollution must should be added to the price, but this is the accepted way, in our culture, of refusing to accept responsibility for externalities.

      2. Allegorio

        How is that fair. The rich get to squander all the energy they want, jets yachts etc. Power should be rationed. The myth that pricing energy higher is the solution to global warming is a myth perpetuated by the moneyed elite. Socialism for the rich, austerity for everyone else. Rationing is the only rational solution!

  2. rd

    Re: Clinton 2020

    I think Richard Nixon is the only losing nominated Presidential candidate to get re-nominated in the past century.

    (Mike drop)

    1. Code Name D

      I keep getting thus gut feeling that the next 2 years are already writen in stone.

      1. Sanders will be blocked from the primary because – reasons.

      2. Hillary anounces. Its 2015 all over again as she becomes the defacto nomoniee before one vote is ever cast.

      3. Correct the record on stairoids. This time, offeding pages are blocked outright.

      4. The house, though Polosi, becomes an arm of the Clintion campain machine. It’s soul functin will be to create scandle for Trump. This will backfire badly.

      5. The Justice Democrats will become assimelated into the establishment, and will become full-throated Hillary boosters.

      6. Trump wins re-election and the Democrats lose the House and are wipped out at the state level.

      7. Democrats will claim no one could have forseen any of this.

    2. Summer

      You have to consider winning isn’t the main priority this time around. Her candidacy only has to keep someone to the left of herself from winning for big donors to consider their money well spent.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I saw a few clips of her election bid back in 2008 and her attempt in 2016. The Hillary of 2016 was a completely different one to the Hillary of 2008 physically. That Hillary was more younger appearing and more robust. How will Hillary of 2020 get along at age 73?

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Can she avoid candid cameras? I saw a couple of the videos from 2015 before her cellphone ban and, man, she did not understand you just can’t talk to the proles that way. Especially when they are your constituency.

    3. Lee

      Didn’t Bill and Hillary tout themselves as a twofer during his presidency? If so, perhaps she should be declared ineligible on the basis that she is illegally seeking a third term. If so, might they not lock her up?

      1. ambrit

        No. They’d just make her ambassadress to Outer Mongolia, or perhaps Tuva.
        “Thanks for all the money dear. Here’s your consolation prize.”

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Well the thing is, she did make any talk of effective healthcare toxic for a generation. That’s filled a few pockets and probably bought a lot of good will.

      1. Lee

        Friend of mine was a kid there at the time. Her Dad tossed her and her siblings out the first floor window as the house started collapsing. She recalls telephone poles whipping wildly about then snapping, and lots of other fun stuff. I got the feeling from her telling that she found the experience more exciting than threatening.

    1. Homeroid

      Here in Homer AK we felt it well. Nothing fell off my shelves.
      A tsunami warning was put out. Folks moved to higher ground.
      There is now a large gathering at Kharacters bar where libations are flowing in this early hour of the day in thanks that we DO NOT live in Anchorage. Sounds like the highway to Anchorage my be out for awhile. Mail may be bait late for awhile.
      I did move all the weed,whiskey,beer to the floor under the work bench. There could be aftershocks.

      1. jo6pac

        It’s good to see you have your priorities right;-)

        Hope everyone stays safe and without a wall of water headed to AK.

  3. kernel

    Something fishy about this morning’s news of huge data-breach at (subsidiary of?) Marriott. They say data was stolen for 500 Million “clients”, explained as if those are all people who have stayed at one of their hotels. The number doesn’t make sense; that’s 7% of all humans on the planet, most of whom couldn’t afford the hotels. I’m betting that 500 Million is People Who’s Data They Have Acquired From Various Sources (Marketing data), not just People Who Have Paid To Stay There (Accounting data). If I’m right, the next question is how they got the data (and was it legal?).

      1. jsn

        Marriotts booking network is the largest in the world and is global: people can mostly afford where they are.

        It’s bigger than is healthy, but it’s really big.

        1. Todde

          I looked at the financials.

          They have 1.6 million rooms worldwide with a 70% occupancy rate.

          Roughly 410 million customers year. Dont know how many would be repeats

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            How much energy is used to get those 410 million customers* to their beds from their homes?

            *Except those who get there by walking or bicycling.

  4. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Company Tried to Patent My Work After a Job Interview

    Good heavens, what do they teach kids these days? How is it that grad students at the MIT Media Lab (who are well versed in managing intellectual property) haven’t been told about IP protections?

    40 years ago in a sophomore engineering class I was told that that anything you’re working on designing is never to be discussed with anybody outside your organization unless there are non-disclosures in place.

    At least MIT stepped up later.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      First thought on reading the headline — how could a Phd. student at MIT be that clueless? After reading the article I saw mention of the bonus employees got for obtaining a patent. Wow! a bonus! I thought Corporate inventors in Europe got a bit more than that. I also wondered whether the student realized that any offer from Google would include an Intellectual Property agreement form claiming all Intellectual Property the new employee might produce — including all patentable art for design patents and utility patents — whether invented at work or at home — and anything the employee might write including a great American novel or an opinion piece for the Times along with any dreams the employee might be so unwise as to write down or tell to another so that the Corporation found out about them … AND a 6 months to 1 year delay before an employee might reasonably attempt with — hopes of successful legal protection — to benefit from any Intellectual Property they succeeding in hiding from their employer. Then I wondered what sort of rights MIT held over any ideas this student might believe to possess. After I watched the video of the book the student made I had to wonder what the Media Lab could be teaching. The stuff was ‘cute’ but … how have those kinds of idea become patentable art?

      I recall a story about how the craze for Intellectual Property and claims for scientific prizes changed the climate at the famous Bell Labs — back when there was a ‘real’ Bell Labs. The open doors and informal inter-disciplinary discussions of scientific and technical problems were replaced by halls of cypher-locks.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The thing is academic work doesn’t always correspond to real world common sense.

        One needs to get out of the Ivory Tower…away from the campus, as this about Warren from above can remind us:

        she ‘might have done more good than in an entire year’ on campus.”

        That relates to one’s own field and it’s even more treacherous to step outside one’s academic discipline.

        And so, even though AOC won some prize in a science competition, we should still allow for her various blunders so far – like the one involving Boolean logic earlier this week.

        No one is perfect.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Same reaction. The great state university I work around has several incubators for prying these kinds of IP ideas out of grad students for minimal proof of concept and maximum return to their Profs. Perhaps MIT did not tell this guy whose sheep he was? Only scanned, will MIT sue him for loss of IP?

        Meanwhile electronic pop up books is a pretty lame idea. I have no treasured pop up books from my youth, because they all broke quickly.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I thought the pop-up books were cool, or could be.

          I guess I’m too innocent. The baseline assumption seems to be that in IT, every time you walk into a room with other people, your ideas can and will be appropriated for profit and you won’t get a cut (not using “stolen” because perhaps we’re dealing with a commons here). This is about as far from David Graeber’s “everyday communism”* is you can get.

          It’s hard to see how “innovation” — a la Bell Labs, back when it was Bell Labs — can take place in such a sociopathic environment. Perhaps this explains why product is so crapified.

          NOTE * Where you ask somebody for directions, and they don’t try to make you pay for them, or deliberately misdirect you, or take the opportunity to play sick games, as sociopaths would do. No, they just give you directions, because you asked for them.

  5. John Buell

    Re: Madison and Politics. How about adding another revered voice. Reinhold Niebuhr:
    Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does it matter, for Niebuhr, whether it’s direct democracy or representative democracy?

  6. dcrane

    “Bernie Sanders Puts Forward a Program That Could Split the Democratic Party” [Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report].

    Disappointing to see nothing about electoral finance reform in Bernie’s platform. The money and resulting corruption of Washington is at the heart of so much that is wrong. Money in politics was a big part of his 2016 message.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would like to see something about helping the homeless (which might involve more than guaranteeing jobs).

      Also reforming education…too much waste, for example, on administrators.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m not sure what campaign finance reform *buurp!* has to do with Blue Dogs Delenda Est. If the Democratic Party becomes too toxic for Corporate funding, we won’t need those kinds of incremental ‘adjustments’.

      So I’m disappointed too. I’m pursing my lips, even.

      How’s that get rid of Citizen’s United constitutional amendment coming along?

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Ease off Grinnell already. They’re just trying to live up to their reputation as the Harvard of the Midwest. Harry Hopkins is probably turning over in his grave though.

  8. marku52

    Very interesting post from the Intercept, found at American Conservative. It turns out that support among Dems for HRC VS Bernie strongly correlates with their tendency for authoritarianism. This is a stronger correlation than the well known one between Rep and Dems.
    “Results were similar in the YouGov sample and the student sample, the latter of which was even more dramatic—“the probability of voting Clinton increases dramatically from 0.18 to 0.867 as young Democrats shift from the lower end of authoritarianism to its maximum value.”

    I used to post a lot at Kevin Drum’s site, but lately it has become an echo chamber policed by a nest of vipers. Anyone questioning the Wonderfulness of Obama or Clinton, or pointing out that DJT is just doing something Obama used to do, is relentlessly ad hom’d. No counter argument even offered.

    In other words, an authoritarian grouping.



    1. Summer

      Just replace desire for “strongman leader” with desire for “expert” and you see the resemblance.

    2. Summer

      But you always have to consider that people are rewarded for conformity – no matter how they really feel about it.
      Hence the deaths of despair of people not in poverty.

      1. RMO

        Not surprising – Hillary is the face of the dominant elite in the Democrat party and the one praised to the skies by mainstream media. It seems obvious that the relatively more authoritarian leaning end of the constituency is more likely to be Hillary supporters. The actions and attitudes of her and her supporters in the primaries also correlate pretty well with authoritarian thinking. I wasn’t aware of the evaluation methodology they’re using but the bare bones of what they’re using does seem to have some commonality with the two well examined tests I have read about.

  9. Summer

    Re: Cali wildfires and insurance
    “We’re slowly marching towards a world that is uninsurable.”

    As if “the world” ever was.
    Private insurance companies are about profit, not anyone’s survival. Is it sustainable to put rentiers of any kind as the middle man between you and survival?

    1. John k

      You’re more likely to make an investment, either for a home or income producing rental, if you can avoid a total loss when it all hits the fan. No insurance equals less investment.

      1. Summer

        Was the middle man seeking profit ever ideal for this scenario or others involving life and death in many cases?

        Theft insurance? Maybe for something like that there is a role for them.

    2. Wukchumni

      It’s a ‘what do you do?’ kind of gig, should we lose insurance coverage on our property…

      Sell to somebody else and move away to safer climes, or redouble efforts at making us as safe as can be. We have 4 fire departments that can respond to conflagrations, and winds historically have never been an issue here, the one thing you can really do nothing about in defending property in the face of a fire.

    3. Tom Stone

      Summer, one of the agents in my office had a $1mm plus deal fall apart because the buyer could not get insurance within the escrow period.
      All agents in my large office have been advised to make the ability to insure a contingency in all of our offers.
      Two points.
      If it’s an all cash deal then it’s not a problem…if the buyer is willing to assume the risk.
      Also, if the buyer had gone to a broker as soon as the offer was made, instead of an agent it is likely they could have obtained insurance.
      At a price.

    4. Richard

      Exactly. I’ve always found it really odd about the usa that the two things we can guarantee are going to happen to all of us, sickness and old age, are dealt with by gambling. Insurance Company: “I’ll bet you you don’t get sick!” What other madness lies just under the surface of what we’re taught to assume is normal?

  10. Buttinsky

    Re Glen Ford’s piece on Bernie Sanders’ trajectory for splitting the Democratic Party: There must be some really interesting discussions going on around the water cooler over at Black Agenda Report, as fellow contributor Bruce Dixon formulated the proposition that Sanders was a mere sheepdog for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in 2016. Ford and Dixon should at least wager something of value on the outcome. One of them is bound to prove the more prescient. But maybe that’s sufficient ante in and of itself.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think Sanders has evolved since 2016 as well, if the suggestion to ‘wreck the party’ is going to be on the table.

      That alone will make him not a sheep dog any more (and something he didn’t want to do), if he was ever one.

      1. Richard

        I’d say he tried his very best to sheepdog for Clinton. How many of us followed him is another matter, but he has no power over that. Thank god.

          1. Richard

            I’m saying I’m glad he wasn’t able to get Clinton elected, as it seems clear he was honestly trying to do. That doesn’t make him a terrible politician; it just means the people were wiser.

            1. Richard

              I was running out the door this afternoon, and made a rushed answer, and see Lambert’s point better now in the calmness of evening. Am I saying Bernie honestly thought he could deliver his votes to a neoliberal? Was his sense of the country that poor?
              Well first, he was attempting to deliver not to just a neoliberal, but The Neoliberal. She and Bill practically invented it. Apart from that, she was probably the worst Democratic candidate since James Buchanan. This was one of the tougher sheepdog sells in the history of sheepdog sells. I do think Bernie tried his level best; he campaigned harder than Hillary did for gods sakes.
              Whether he actually thought he could deliver the votes, who knows? I think he thought Clinton would win. Best case scenario, he was just trying to say that he did, out of some mistaken idea that it would “bolster the future viability” of his movement within the dem party. It clearly hasn’t; they still hate and oppose him with ideological rigidity not seen since the antebellum south.
              I know it sounds horrible, and Trump is a nightmare. But this is the feeling in my heart that won’t go away: I’m glad Sanders failed to elect Clinton, and I’m glad neoliberalism isn’t popular.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I think both these comments are a bit more simple-minded than the situation warrants:

                1) As both Yves and I have reminded readers, Sanders promised to support the Democrat candidate (a sensible move if you want any access at all to the party machinery). I’m not post-Modernist enough to think that promises don’t count for anything.

                2) Sanders did everything the Clinton campaign asked him to do. But he didn’t give an inch on policy, and he didn’t change his style. That is in great contrast to Elizabeth Warren, who enthusiastically adopted all the tone and the substance (such as it was) of the Clinton campaign.

                3) Look at the outcome and ask yourself cui bono. (a) Liberal Democrats yammering “Nader!” after Florida 2000 poisoned the well for challengers from the left for at least 16 years. This time around, donut Twitter tried the same thing but it’s never spread to the entire party, exactly because (see #1) Sanders took one for the team and campaigned for Clinton. (b) Sanders did what he’s been doing his whole life: He opened a space on the left for a policy-driven discussion. That space is far wider today than it was in 2015. So I think for points (a) and (b) you can’t quarrel with the results, and if he lost some voters on the margins, that might be a price worth paying.

                4) I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense to treat the notion of “sheepdogging” as unproblematic, when one of the editors of the publication that invented and propagated the term has “de-dogmatized” it. Specifically, #MedicareForAll is obviously a superb wedge issue, but given where we are now, this year, that only works if there are people within the party ready to drive the wedge home. Same with the Green New Deal. (I support an inside/outside strategy, and I envision the inside and the outside operating like Grant and Sherman, respectively. The left has yet to find a Sherman.)

                6) I don’t think wishing Clinton to win, neoliberal though she and her dynasty are, is anything more than a judgment call (especially given that Trump, in his own way, is also a neoliberal). I certainly don’t think it’s a moral litmus test, though I think the reasoning that leads one to that conclusion (for example, tribalism) might be. It’s worth noting that with the exception of a few outliers [lambert blushes modestly] most everyone thought Clinton had the election in the bag; perhaps Sanders did as well. Not being a telepath, I don’t know. But again, looking at the results, I find them hard to quarrel with.

                7) Finally, it’s silly to say that the Clintons invented neo-liberalism. Read up on the history of the Mount Pelerin society, for starters.

                1. Richard

                  Thanks for the response. I do think my posts were a bit weak here. I will elaborate a little to make them a tad less weak.
                  1) Yes, Bernie is honourable. Especially by the standards of Washington. I didn’t think to add that as a reason for his support for Clinton. And I get that 3) Nadar ‘2000 is a huge reason he pledged his support, should he lose, in advance of any voting. I always thought that a serious tactical mistake (leverage?) and a serious mistake in tone (we talk about how to lose from day 1?), but I understand that his motives were probably well intentioned, and that I might be wrong about their efficacy.
                  2) I grant you, though I didn’t follow Warren as a campaigner for Clinton.
                  3) I also agree there is more space for a policy driven discussion within the dem party, and some people in position now to create a wedge, with med4all and other issues. I’d love to see it, obviously. Still waiting for it to happen. No evidence so far in terms of actions, ie, pelosi and caucus chair guy.
                  4) I will look into the usage and history of “sheepdog” before I use the term again. I seem to recall it being used about Kucinich and Jackson. Jerry Brown ’92 as well? I wasn’t being very thoughful about the word.
                  6) I agree the 2016 vote was a judgement call, and I’m not quarreling with the results either, at least insofar as they represented a condemnation of neoliberalism and imperialism.
                  7) I said “practically invented”. Sorry for the rhetoric, but I think if you asked people who knew what neoliberalism was to name one notable neoliberal, the clintons would top the list.
                  Okay. That doesn’t get me off the hook. Sigh.
                  Thanks again for the response, critical or no.

    2. edmondo

      If the Party sabotages him in the primaries, as in 2016, then progressives will get another chance to do the right thing, and

      vote for whichever corporatist the Democrats nominate with Bernie’s approval. Because Trump.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      The sheepdogging thing was on my mind as I watched the Thin Blue Ripple come in a few weeks ago. Sanders won’t stop. AOC apparently hasn’t done anything in her life that has been recorded that can be used against her, yet. So she’s not stopping. Well over 500 other actual proper sheepdogs to point at, but no.

      Who else do we have who does not blanch at talking turkey? Kucinich?

  11. timotheus

    “Heads explode at the mention of Susan Sarondon.”

    NYC heads explode at the mention of real estate developers’ BFF Bill de Blasio.

  12. ewmayer

    o LOL, Harry-Potter-style evildoer-name alert: “Clinton does little to dampen 2020 speculation” [The Hill]. “‘I don’t understand the wisdom of telling a woman who has made history in our party and in the country to get off the stage,’ said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Clinton. — “Basil Smikle” sounds creepily-unctuously Harry-Potter-evil all by itself, but note that it’s also an anagram of “Lem Basilisk”. Hmmm…

    o The Bezzle: “Blockchain study finds 0.00% success rate and vendors don’t call back when asked for evidence” [The Register]. “…[Burg writes] ‘However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development.’” — I can offer one, and likely the only-one-needed, lesson learned: Blockchain is useful for scamming huge sums of money from gullible tech-bedazzled investors.

    o ““Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed” [Quanta]. “Creationists love to insist that evolution had to assemble upward of 300 amino acids in the right order to create just one medium-size human protein.” — But the primordial soup didn’t start with ‘300 amino acids in the right order to create just one medium-size human protein’, nor did it need to – much shorter chains, some of which turned out to be capable of interesting but much humbler feats such as self-replication, make for a much more likely substrate. Classic strawman argument, akin to plunking down a fine Swiss watch among some stone-aged-man artifacts and saying “clearly, to get from here to here requires divine intervention.”

    1. nippersdad

      I read that Smeagall was a pretty good fellow until he glimpsed the one-ring-to-rule-them-all, and then promptly bashed in his friends head to possess it. Not much of an anagram, but they do sound like similar types.

      Gollums, gollums everywhere these days.

        1. Wukchumni

          “the golem is a highly mutable metaphor with seemingly limitless symbolism. It can be victim or villain, Jew or non-Jew, man or woman—or sometimes both. Over the centuries it has been used to connote war, community, isolation, hope and despair.”


    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      My Network Manager had set up some bitcoin mining processors, because he could and he wanted to see how it worked. He kept it up for a while because he could generate a some pin and egg money. I was relieved to find out he was already breaking it down and ebaying the parts when things got hot. A genius with a simple soul, at least he thinks a lot more about the costs of his air conditioner.

      I liked the idea, a year or so back, that life is overdetermined by the universe’s addiction to entropy.

      Lem Basilisk. I already feel bad for not having read this horror/fantasy/detective series.

  13. Summer

    re: “Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.” [New York Times]. “T.M. Landry

    “After each viral video and media appearance, donors including wealthy executives and older Americans on fixed incomes sent money. T.M. Landry took in more than $250,000 in donations this year, a portion of which was earmarked by the donors for tuition assistance, according to records of the donations obtained by The Times…”

    “To many T.M. Landry families, tuition is not cheap — about $600 a month, or $7,200 annually. Mr. Landry’s annual salary has averaged about $86,000, according to four bankruptcy filings, which he says were driven by all of the tuition that he and his wife have covered.”

    And it’s free college that is needed?

  14. Carolinian

    That’s an interesting story on Lordstown and the mind numbing demands of assembly line work. WSWS recently did a story on our local BMW plant and seems that not much has likely changed except that auto workers no longer earn better salaries than school teachers. The WSWS article said that your odds of moving up from contract worker (about half the plant) to full salaried depended heavily on the physical ability to do the work.

  15. Wukchumni

    We’re in a pretty earthquake safe part of California, the biggest one recorded here being a little over 4, which is a joyride in the scheme of things temblor. We’re far from the San Andreas fault.

    The wildcard being the Lone Pine fault across the Sierra Nevada, which caused maybe the largest quake of all in American California history in 1872, and it was no slouch:

    The quake was felt strongly as far away as Sacramento, where citizens were startled out of bed and into the streets. Giant rockslides in what is now Yosemite National Park woke naturalist John Muir, then living in Yosemite Valley, who reportedly ran out of his cabin shouting, “A noble earthquake!” and promptly made a moonlit survey of the fresh talus piles. This earthquake stopped clocks and awakened people in San Diego, California, to the south, Red Bluff, California, to the north, and Elko, Nevada, to the east. The shock was felt over most of California and much of Nevada. Thousands of aftershocks occurred, some severe.


    1. anon in so cal

      395 is one of our favorite highways in California. It’s a trip back in time, surrounded by the beautiful eastern Sierras and the White Mts. There’s a monument along there to the earthquake victims.

      The last time we were in the area, we kept hearing what sounded like very loud jet engines in the late afternoon. We had never heard this before in all the times we’d gone backpacking or sightseeing. My husband thought they were large passenger jets from LAX. IDK

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s fighter jets from China Lake Naval Air Station plying their traits.

        The little town of Keeler on the other side of now dry Owens Lake has a couple of jets stenciled on the city limits sign, ha!

        Worth a trip, as the 20 foot high dock to nowhere from pre 1900 is still there, kinda falling apart, but you can imagine the history it had in ferrying this and that to & from the nearby Cerro Gordo Mines.


  16. The Rev Kev

    “Xi and Trump Should Swallow Their Pride and Join the TPP”

    Foreign Policy magazine should know better. The whole idea of the TTP was that it was to be an everyone-but-China trade pact so as to isolate them and leave them swinging in the breeze. Actually it was worse than that. Obama came right out and said that it was going to be America that was going to write the rules of this trade pact which by extension would have meant no cheap medical drugs in developing countries, patents extending to infinity and beyond and all the joys of the Washington Consensus. Tough luck if you were an average American worker but sacrifices have to be made.

    1. JTMcPhee

      FP is a shill for the globalists and their dreams of total ownership. They know just where the bread is buttered.

      And always emphasize, and remind people, of that central element in “trade agreements:” the demolition of the sovereignty of nation-states in the face of “right to make a profit” attacks on national and local laws and regulations, through the “investor-state dispute settlement” provisions. Here’s the measured description that survives the editorial processes of Wiki: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investor-state_dispute_settlement

      Under ISDS, if a supranational corporation plans to “invest” (actually, buy a chunk of) a country, and that country decides that having a gold mine using mercury to extract the gold from ore and dumping the “externalities” into the local land and water, and dares, DARES, to try to regulate or, G_D forbid, outright ban that activity, the corp only has to pull together its reams of projections of the “profit” (completely excluding externalities, of course) it would have “earned” (looted) in that activity. And then take the “evidence” to an arbitration panel made up of corporate lawyers “specializing” in these proceedings, make a claim against the wealth of the nation, and likely be “awarded” an amount supposedly to make up for the “lost profits.”

      No right of a nation or subdivision thereof to force the a$$hole corp to follow its laws, after corruption and log-rolling get the legislature to sign on to the “trade treaty,” like NAFTA and the TPP and CETA and the rest. No appeal of any substance to the “award.” Just pay up — the IMF will happily lend you, former sovereign nation, the cash to pay the ba$tard$, or get it from your mopes and your central bank by austerity or whatever.

      There’s a long game being played, by the SOBs that run the trade routes and BigCorps — goal being ownership by the Few of EVERYTHING, with destruction of any kind of limits on corporate looting and greed other than the libertarian dog-eat-dog behaviors of one corporate predator pitted against another —- “In the end, there can be only one.”

      “Kill the pig and drink its blood.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And always emphasize, and remind people, of that central element in “trade agreements:” the demolition of the sovereignty of nation-states in the face of “right to make a profit” attacks on national and local laws and regulations, through the “investor-state dispute settlement” provisions.

        Yep. And let us remember, and be thankful, that the first thing Trump did, right out of the box, was nuke TPP (and TTiP seems to be in limbo). Now doubt if the liberal Democrats get back into power they’ll try to revive it, as their first order of business.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    We’re slowly marching toward a world that’s uninsurable.

    We live in Bulgaria 3 months out of the year. BG is a very poor country. Insurance is rare due to cost. When Bad happens, survivors just walk away. The countryside is littered with abandoned, windowless houses with caved-in roofs and trees growing out of the middle of them right next door to ones people are living in. It is the same for factories. We still have huge block-long factories abandoned after the owners retreated to Russia! That is what a world that is uninsurable looks like.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe it’s a rather a country that does not have enough local resources to be “rich” enough to be worth the elements of a “modern political economy” to allow for the risk pooling to develop? Maybe the people there have history and culture that produces these individual outcomes? Seen any videos of big parts of Detroit and similar cities, or the “countryside” in the back woods of places like Alabama and Georgia and Appalachia generally, even here in “cracker” parts of Florida, here in the World’s Greatest Nation? Ever heard of “redlining,” in the insurance context? I bet there are lots of very different stories behind all those “BAD” happenings, not just “uninsurability.”

      Many people here in FL eschew home insurance because the UNsurance companies have walked out of the state to maximize profits by shrinking their “risk pools.” So the few that are left, with some “coverage” by a state-run insurance pool, get to write some very pricey policies and then engage in massive bad faith in responding to claims. Of course there is little effective regulation here, in a state where the Chamber of Commerce owns the legislature and the Looters have decimated the regulatory structures.

      Too bad Bulgaria might suffer from that atomization and absence of comity and community that so many places are dying from. I’m guessing that the cost of living there is pretty cheap, in Western Bloc money.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We still have huge block-long factories abandoned after the owners retreated…. That is what a world that is uninsurable looks like.

      Ever taken the train from New York to Washington and looked out the window?

    3. gepay

      I have often thought that insurance in its idea is socialistic. Everybody in the pool loses a little bit each year so nobody suffers a big loss. Then there is the part where this big pool of capital has to be invested each year and the fine print in the contracts – the regulations that have to be adhered to – the companies that cheat and the clients that cheat. Then again, many insurance actuarial statistics are as accurate as they can be made as there are consequences for bad ones.

  18. The Rev Kev

    What is going on? Trump bends over backwards to defend MSB against Congress, the Senate, the intelligence agencies and the American people. Makes himself way isolated and his words defending MSB simply sound idiotic. Yet look who gets all the high fives and the smiles at the G-20


    There’s gratitude for you!

    1. Wukchumni

      Don’t have time for he, in Argentina
      The truth is, I never wanted a rendezvous
      All through my wild Twitter days, my mad existence
      I kept my distance
      Putin saw the promise

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m going with liquid capital. We’ve heard the DOD, they don’t know how much we’ve spent. To whom will China sell its treasury bonds? KSA keeps generating dollars.

    3. Procopius

      I’m guessing by MSB you mean Mohammed bin Salman, but it’s just a guess. I didn’t follow the link.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That’s the one and I should have put his full name in. Hilariously, a local paper has the headline “World leaders push back against Putin and Saudi prince after ‘secret murderers’ handshake” thus beating the Onion to the punch.

  19. Lambert Strether Post author

    Does anybody know how to get Instagram stories out of Instagram? I got a tip that AOC was streaming her first days on Capitol Hill — and she is, and the movies are terrific; today she’s picking out her office — but I want to repost the material. Is this stuff permanently trapped in Zuckerberg’s horrid walled garden?

  20. Adam Eran

    About that GM plant…This American Life tells the NUMMI story about how GM and Toyota did a joint venture. The American, anti-union system of manufacture seems exactly like prison, so petty squabbles that sabotaged their products were common. Workers sent to Japan to train were treated so well that they grew to enjoy productivity…only to have that enjoyment sabotaged by management when back in the U.S.

    Now, GM says they’ve learned their lesson. Too bad that, since learning the lessons Toyota taught them, GM is terminating their production of the plug-in hybrid Volt. I bought one, and have spent all of $60 on gas in driving 7500 miles. I can’t detect the difference in my electric bill. Most miles driven are on battery, but I charge in the middle of the night when power is cheap.

    …maybe they’ll improve on the Volt, but it’s pretty nice right now. Incidentally, an internal combustion engine has 2000+ parts. An electric motor has 7. Guess what maintenance is going to be like…!

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